What is a ‘First Look’ & is it for you?

What is a First Look?

A first look is when a bride & groom decide to see each other BEFORE the wedding ceremony begins.

I know as many of you read this there are probably two reactions.

Oooh. I’m intrigued. Tell me more.


Nope. Nope. Nope.

I have been calling 2017 the year of the first looks. Many of my brides decided to do a first look this year & I’m not mad about it. Lol.

Usually, we will hide the bride away until the bride & groom are ready for their first look. In most cases this will occur an hour before the ceremony begins. We bring out the groom & take him to a nice, secluded area. He is turned away, so he can’t see what’s going on behind him, then we bring out the bride. Our bride will go up behind him, hug him, tap him on the shoulder, tell him to turn around, etc. I’ve seen where grooms are blindfolded & the bride unties the blindfold and I’ve also had bride & groom’s write their vows to one another/love letters & share them with each other first in private.

For Ivan & I, we decided not to see each other before our ceremony. Walking down the aisle & seeing each other for the first time was absolutely amazing. It’s a memory I hold very dear to my heart. BUT … I don’t think that feeling would have gone away if we would have seen each other before hand for pictures. I really do believe it would have been just as amazing!  Honestly, if my photographer would have given me the option of a first look (on the day of our wedding it stormed during the reception, so we didn’t have the opportunity to go outside & take bride & groom photos. That’s a story for another time.) Then it is possible that we would have definitely considered it. So, now, as a wedding photographer it’s an option I give to all of my brides & at the end, it’s their final decision.

During consultations, I usually ask my Brides if they are interested in a first look & I get two answers, “What is that??” or “YES! Definitely want a first look!” .

Now, the brides who decide not to do a first look, are thrilled when I talk about doing a daddy/daughter first look or photos taken with family & bridesmaids/groomsmen before the ceremony. I love doing these, because it really does free so much time after the ceremony. My goal is to get my bride & groom to their reception as soon as I know all their photos are taken care of.

Plus those daddy/daughter first looks get me every single time! 😦 So sweet!!

Before you completely decide NOT to have a first look, I want to talk about all the reasons why you SHOULD have a first look, but I’m also going to talk about why you SHOULD NOT have a first look. The wannabe lawyer in me is going to present both sides & you can decide. 😉

Reasons why a first look IS for you:


  1. More time to enjoy each other: Seeing each other before the ceremony. EXTENDS your wedding day. Instead of waiting to see each other in the late afternoon, you get to see each other before hand & spend extra time together. Your day goes by so incredibly fast so why not EXTEND your day. Extending your day means MORE PHOTOS!
  2. Natural light for photos: Of course, this is a big deal for me as your photographer. While I don’t mind using flash (artificial light) for your photographs. I WANT you to take advantage of the natural light, the sunset & that gorgeous light that makes your veil glow. If the sun goes away by the time your ceremony ends, no more light = flash for your photos.
  3. Goodbye jitters: Many times when we are feeling nervous, jittery, butterflies etc. Something that really helps to calm us down is our other half.
  4. Real reactions: Nothing better then seeing each other for the first time, without a hundred eyes glued to your every move. You can talk to each other, embrace in a big hug, give each other kisses, and just hold each other. There will be big smiles, laughing & even happy tears.
  5. Enjoy your cocktail hour: You get to actually ENJOY your cocktail hour that you PAID for. So instead of staying put after your ceremony and taking family formals, bridal party & bride & groom portraits, which usually takes about an hour; you get to head straight to the party & mingle with your guests. Of course, we can take even more photos after your ceremony too! 😉

I asked my bride Cindy a few questions on her first look …

What made you decide on a first look?

The reason why we wanted to do a first look was because we wanted to have that first initial look by ourselves. No cameras, people, music, or chaos around us, while we saw each other dressed for the first time. We thought it would be a great moment to just say what we wanted to say to each other alone before we got caught up in celebrating with everyone there. And it truly was a special moment that I will forever and always treasure. Not only did I felt ready to be married, but it calmed my nerves so much to see my husband to be. And can I just add that our pictures for the first look were amazing! His reaction was my favorite. ❤

Did you enjoy your first look? If you could do it again, would you have planned it the same way?

I honestly loved having a first look. I wish I could’ve stop time in that moment. It became one of my favorites of the night. Being able to hug each other and know that we were ready to be in front of everyone together (especially because we are both shy around big crowds) made it so worth having that time before the ceremony. Not only that, with all the craziness that was going on with getting dressed and setting up, I was just happy to take a breather and take in the moment we would have an intimate memory together on our wedding day.


What would you tell other brides who are trying to decide on a first look or not?

Well, I will say my mom tried to convince me not to, but I explained to her how important it was for us. So, you will have family & friends question why. Honestly though, after she saw the pictures she was like, You were right. I’m glad you did it! I think it’s all about tradition. We were both anxious half of the time, so we knew we needed that time alone with just us. It’s definitely not something you would regret doing.

Here are 3 couples that decided on a first look before the ceremony:

Cindy & Robert

Lindsay & Glynn

Kaylee & Nate

Reasons why a first look ISN’T for you:


  1. Tradition: I would say about 50% of my brides are into tradition. They want that first look to happen at the ceremony. I was that bride, the one who was very traditional. So I completely get it!
  2. An early ceremony: If your ceremony is earlier & you have an hour and a 1/2 before the sun begins to descend, then a first look doesn’t HAVE to happen. Now, don’t forget 30 mins. before the sun actually begins to go away is the best time for photos. Personally, I love this time. I have seen on timelines, ‘sunset portraits at 8:30’ when the sun is completely GONE by 8:30. So, if you are planning on sunset portraits, let’s make it at 8:00 instead. Timing is everything.
  3. Too much pressure: Sometimes we feel pressured by loved ones, past brides, friends, etc. to do or not to do a first look. If you don’t mind artificial light (using flash instead of natural light) for your family formals, bridal party and bride & groom photos, then let the opinions of others slide on by. As long as YOU feel comfortable with the decision, that’s what’s most important. This is especially for my brides who are having Fall & Winter weddings, with late afternoon ceremonies.
  4. The excitement is real: The anticipation of waiting to see your soon to be spouse is a great feeling. I’ll never forget walking down the aisle & seeing Ivan’s smile.
  5. Enjoy getting ready a little longer: You get to enjoy getting ready with your bridesmaids & family.


Here are 3 couples that decided to see each other at the ceremony:

Kristina & John 

Jaimie & Vince

Maegan & Anthony



Whatever you decide, you have to feel comfortable & confident with your decision. Of course, I’ll be here to photograph your day for what it is. If that includes a first look with your husband to be, awesome! If it doesn’t, that’s okay too. I’ll be sure to capture his expression, as soon as you make your appearance at your ceremony.

Also, don’t forget, we can totally set up a daddy daughter first look or a first look with a loved one(s).  🙂

Happy wedding planning,







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